Off the Beaten Tracks in Italy

I came to a dead stop and rubbed my eyes in total disbelief… My friend Rudston, here, in the heart of a remote hamlet of Sardinia?

The last time I had seen him, it was in Paris more than a year ago. We had met to catch up and talk about this and that over an exquisite lunch in an elegant restaurant. Rudston was dressed up to the nines, with a fresh haircut, I remember.

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“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
Marcel Proust

Sure-footed with Venetian Furlane

In order to properly oversee the restoration, decoration and final touches of our new exclusive project in Venice – the Ca’nova Palazzo with its three superb apartments, – I have had to spend quite a bit of time over there, as you can imagine, repeatedly shuttling back and forth between the City of Light and the Serenissima.

At the beginning, everytime I was about to run out to catch a flight from Paris, my daughter used to pull a face and gently lament: “You’re not going to Venice again, Mummy, are you?”

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A Ghost Abbey in the Heart of Tuscany

Where on Earth had we landed?… A frolicsome sprite, hidden somewhere behind a decrepit stone wall, replied to me in a hushed voice: “In the depths of the Middle Ages, in a world long sunk into oblivion…” And my daughter – who had been devouring a Harry Potter book lately, – looked up at me with her round, sparkling eyes:
“Mummy, did you hear that little voice?”
“What little voice, darling?…”

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In Venice and in Grand Style: the Art of Damien Hirst

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, enunciated this, and would probably have upheld this view if he had seen the artwork of Damien Hirst, one of the most famous creators of contemporary art and reportedly the United Kingdom’s richest living artist. Or would he?

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A Tall and Spicy Story

The best season to visit Italy can sometimes be… winter! Yes, the cold season. Take the small hill town of San Gimignano, for instance – known as the “Town of Fine Towers”, and also nicknamed the “Manhattan of the Middle Ages” or “Manhattan of Tuscany”. The historic centre of San Gimignano, by the way, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990. Continue Reading →

A Passion for Tuscan Cuisine

I was in Florence last month, strolling across the Ponte Vecchio, when my phone rang. I answered it:

“Hi Katharina, it’s Emiko.
– Oh, Emiko! How have you been?”
We exchanged a few words and then Emiko said:
“Since you’re in the area, would you like to come over for lunch tomorrow?
– I’d love to!”

When a talented cookbook writer invites you over for a home-cooked lunch, this is an offer you can’t refuse.

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Proper Italian Usage and Civilities

“And that is how Italians are. So terribly physically all over one another. They pour themselves one over the other like so much melted butter over parsnips. They catch each other under the chin, with a tender caress of the hand, and they smile with sunny melting tenderness into each other’s face…”

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Italians Like Their Pint Too…

Martin Luther, the famous priest and reforming theologian (1483-1546), once declared: “Beer is made by men, wine by God.”

Well, this is a nice pronouncement. But I think I might have tasted, on several occasions over the past few years, divine wines that had been made by mortals, as well as excellent beers which seemed to be coming straight from the heavens – and some of those beers were Italian!

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Sartorial Elegance in Montalcino

“You have created most of these lovely dresses and jackets, Renata?
– Yes, Katharina, my sister and I have designed them. The bags and scarves too.
– Wow! Talent obviously runs in the family…
– I’m afraid so.

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